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Study: Firstborn Siblings Are More Conservative

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A girl colors with crayons while her baby brother sleeps. (credit:  David Silverman/Getty Images)

A girl colors with crayons while her baby brother sleeps. (credit: David Silverman/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – According to a new study, the oldest child may be more conservative than his or her siblings.

Researchers from Italy found that the eldest child of a family is more likely to be conservative than the second born.

“We suggest that differences in conservatism between firstborns and second borns stem from different strategies of optimizing the parental resource children can gain in the family system,” Daniela Barni, a psychologist at the Catholic University of Milan, and a researcher on the study, told LiveScience.

Barni and her team looked at an old idea that a person’s birth order can influence his or her entire life.

“Birth-order effects on values, personality, intelligence, and many other psychological characteristics are definitively a controversial topic,” Barni added to LiveScience. “In our opinion, the inconsistency in results mostly comes from the poor methodological approaches traditionally used to study birth order and its effects.”

The researchers surveyed 96 families throughout Italy and had 384 total participants.

Each family member was required to answer questions about their own aversion to change and feelings about order, tradition, and other faces of conservatisms. Their answers were then analyzed in relation to birth order. Researchers were able to control for gender, age, religious belief, level of education of the parents, and age of the parents.

Their conclusion showed that firstborn children were more conservative on average; but the older siblings are not conservative because of their parents.

“In other words, firstborns are more conservative than are second borns, independent from their parent’s conservative values, Barni said. “Firstborns, having experienced the undivided attention and care of their parents, and being stronger and more intellectually developed than their younger siblings, occupy a dominant position. Thus, they tend to safeguard their status advantage by developing conservative values helping them to uphold the status quo.”

Researchers did not take stepfamilies into account for their study. They know that further research is needed across the world.

The findings were published in the August 2014 issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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